The table doesn’t matter when the local derby rolls round. Historical slights, real and perceived, are reheated like morning after pizza, the bitter taste of previous losses is harboured in the bile at the pit of the stomach and the coaches endlessly practice their St Crispin’s Day speech.
On this glorious late winter’s day, half a dozen of the Macquarie Uni Women’s Premier Division team turn up to see what they can learn from the best female team on the Lower North Shore. The brown paper bag recruiting drive has secured the services of Bronte, Abby and Krysta – a welcome enhancement on a warm day.
On to the field they march, these few, these happy few, this band of sisters. Spray on tan set, earrings out, studs checked, final instructions barked, hands together, Cats on 3, let’s go. Helena wins the first tap to absolutely no one’s surprise and two kicks later the ball finds its way to Laces, who punts it between the big sticks. So much for derby pressure.
The Cats are dominant in the first quarter. Ash is putting on selfless shepherds and Jaime is taking on the traffic and winning. The Swans defenders are accomplished at the long kick, but Burna is stationed on the half forward line racking up possessions more quickly than the Premiers are closing borders. Eyes are lighting up at the prospect of moving up the golden boot rankings, which results in the Cats not making the best of their opportunities close to goal. LilyS, Burna and Lucy all split the posts. Q1 LCC 4.8.32 WMS 0.0.0.
As the second quarter starts, it becomes clear that the Swans coach has parked the team bus in front of goal and the Cats get pulled in to a congested bunch on the forward line. Gracieeee’s kicking has come on in leaps and bounds as the season progresses and her kicks into the pocket are creating opportunities. Laces is finding plenty of space out wide and would probably be leading the stats count, if we kept one. Midnight has clearly misheard the coaches’ instructions as Helena is benched and Tipsy moves into the ruck. Even Madame Curie wouldn’t repeat that experiment. Burna adds two to her tally and Lucy kicks another. Q2 LCC 7.10.52 WMS 0.1.1
Meanwhile, the Swans coach has built a tourist deck on top of the team bus and there isn’t a single player in the Cats defensive half. Armo is at half back with hands on hips, looking all the world like the council roadworks supervisor. LexieP is babysitting the newbies in the backline, but they are only slightly closer to the ball than they were on the sideline. Charli Bear might be an affectionate nickname at home, but she’s The Bear in a game and there will be a few Swans wearing bruises from her defensive efforts. LilyD still manages to find the ball despite the lack of opportunity, and with a laconicness that would do a cowgirl proud, turns the ball back in to attack. Elin finds herself lonely at the back of the pack and as the ball sails over it, takes the mark. Unhurried, she kicks low and true. Maia takes a run down the sideline, but with no one on the lead, decides to bounce and spends the rest of the quarter cursing the designer of the oblong ball. Lucy has a ripping quarter. Her first goal comes from a one on one steal, the second from a neat run around the pocket and the third when she beats three defenders for the ball. Q3 LCC 11.15.81 WMS 0.1.1
As the girls are ignoring the game plan anyway, the coaches join the party and start ringing the changes. Tipsy and Graiceeee break their season ducks with impressive goals. Chops enjoys a run down the front and finds a way to goal and Caitie seems mildly surprised to find herself with the ball in a scoring position and does. Abby gains a couple of possessions and tries out that handball thing, Bronte is cheered on by the crowd as she chases a ball down the wing that simply refuses to bounce in a straight line and Krysta does her best to get involved and gets hands on leather. It will only get better.
The Derby doesn’t quite live up to its Agincourt billing and the kicking accuracy will be keeping the coaches awake at night, but the convincing win ensures a semi-final berth. Sitting third on the table, the Cats’ last two games of the regular season are against second and fourth and are important games if the team is serious at having a tilt at the title. On this weekend though, the MacUni women have seen how the game should be played. Our job here is done.
Final Score: Lane Cove Cats 15.20.110 d Willoughby Mosman Swans 0.1.1
Goals: L. Yates (5), E. Byrne (3), C.Davenport, E. Halloran, E.Ladmore, G. O’Dowd,
G. Sachs, L. Sullivan, C. Zeilinga
Players’ Player: E. Byrne
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